Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Regent audit shows loss in first year of community center's operation

Financial statements show the Regent spent more than it made in 2011, the Riverview event center’s first year of operation. 

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times (2011)

Financial statements show the Regent spent more than it made in 2011, the Riverview event center’s first year of operation. 

RIVERVIEW — Blasted by critics and wading in debt, the Regent's board is eager to make this point clear: It's losing money.

The board says negative numbers back up the Riverview events center's claim that it can't afford to quickly return $35,000 demanded by Hillsborough County commissioners.

"It's going to be touch and go," said David Lemar Jr., the Regent's board chairman.

Financial statements obtained this week by the Tampa Bay Times show that the Regent spent more than it made in 2011, its first year of operation.

Opened in January 2011, the center netted about $195,000 in rental fees. But it spent about $207,000 on operating expenses, according to an independent audit by Hamilton and Phillips, a Brandon accounting firm.

The small operating deficit grew with an additional $46,000 used for professional fees — mostly, Lemar said, legal and accounting services to curb controversy about mismanagement and misspending.

There was $41,000 in the bank, he said, because the board hasn't repaid all of the money requested back from its landlord, Hillsborough Community College. The Regent's board is reimbursing HCC $116,000 over 10 years.

Nonprofit groups aren't required to commission independent audits. But the Regent has long faced criticism over its misuse of some of the nearly $7 million it received in public money.

Experts say an operational loss isn't unusual for an opening year. But audits are just a snapshot.

"They're not forecasts," said Maureen Butler, assistant professor of accounting at the University of Tampa. "It could be completely different next year."

In 2011, the Regent reported holding 113 events, 49 of which received discounted rates. This year, the center has booked 170 events, including 100 with discounted rates.

HCC spokeswoman Ashley Carl said the Regent is "doing a better job" this year by improving its reach in the community.

Lemar did not make more up-to-date figures available.

During a heated June meeting, county commissioners called for documents showing the Regent's current financial situation.

The county says $35,000 of its $2.5 million contribution was misspent, and the Regent's board proposed a repayment plan of $400 monthly for seven years.

Commissioners scathingly rejected the offer. Commissioner Victor Crist was particularly adamant about holding the center accountable for its spending of taxpayer money.

Told of the Regent's audit Tuesday, Crist dismissed the 2011 deficit and wanted to see this year's budget and business plan.

"Until they lay their books on the table, we don't know what is real or what is fiction," he said, adding, "We should be looking at the future and their capabilities of repaying the debt."

The Regent's board plans to discuss repayment this week. County commissioners will discuss the matter on Aug. 2.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2443.

Editor's note

Due to a production error, the Times published a story Wednesday about the Regent's finances that previously had appeared in the newspaper. The correct story appears today.

Regent audit shows loss in first year of community center's operation 07/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 12:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.